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US State Department claims China and Russia conspiring to rewrite coronavirus narrative

Jack Burton

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US State Department claims China and Russia conspiring to rewrite coronavirus narrative | The Thaiger
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The US yesterday accused China and Russia of cooperating to spread false claims the Covid-19 pandemic, claiming Beijing is increasingly adopting techniques perfected by Moscow. Lea Gabrielle, coordinator of the US State Department’s Global Engagement Centre, which tracks foreign propaganda, told reporters:

“Even before the Covid-19 crisis we assessed a certain level of coordination between Russia and the People’s Republic of China in the realm of propaganda. But with this pandemic the cooperation has accelerated rapidly.”

“We see this convergence as a result of what we consider to be pragmatism between the two actors who want to shape public understanding of the Covid pandemic for their own purposes”

The Global Engagement Centre has publicly said that thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts are spreading conspiracies about the pandemic, including that the virus, first detected last year in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, was created by the USs.

There has been plenty of finger pointing and diplomatic bickering, and China outraged the US when a foreign ministry spokesman tweeted a conspiracy that the US military brought the virus to Wuhan. China in turn has posted numerous videos mocking the US’ disastrous reaction to the pandemic.

The two countries eventually reached an informal rhetorical truce in late March after telephone talks between President Donald Trump and his counterpart Xi Jinping, but tensions are soaring again as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushes the theory that the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, a stance that Beijing calls “disinformation.”

Both the World Health Organisation, the US government’s top epidemiologist Dr Anthony Fauci, the international Five Eyes intelligence network and numerous epidemiologists, say there is no evidence and it is scientifically highly unlikely that the virus came from a lab, with most scientists saying it emerged at a Wuhan meat market that butchered exotic animals.

China’s ambassador to the US recently bemoaned what he says is an effort to brand “objective facts as disinformation and propaganda.”

“Behind the mind-set of ‘always blame China’ is a kind of dirty politics, championed by a few people who shift the spotlight for political gain.”

President Xi on Friday discussed cooperation over the pandemic in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Russia opposes the attempts by some forces to use the epidemic as a pretext to blame China and will stand firmly by China’s side.”

The two countries often find common ground and clash with the US on issues from Venezuela to the use of economic sanctions and disarmament. According to the Global Engagement Centre, China has ramped up its online campaign to defend its handling of the pandemic, which has killed some 276,000 people worldwide, and criticise the US.

“Beijing is adapting in real time and increasingly using techniques that have long been employed by Moscow”

“I think there are some examples where we have basically seen a narrative pushed out by a state actor then repeated by another one. So we’re certainly seeing them bounce off of each other and essentially play together in the information space.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | WION

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai DJ Celebrity party is likely to be “super spreader” event

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Thai DJ Celebrity party is likely to be “super spreader” event | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath Online

The birthday party of Techin Ploypetch, better known as “DJ Matoom”, is now considered a super-spreader source of Covid-19, with 19 people already found infected after attending the event. According the CCSA spokesperson during the daily briefing today, “Transmissions in Bangkok should be highlighted. They show the possibility of a person becoming a super-spreader”.

The birth of the super spreader birthday party started with a guest to the DJ’s party who had visited a well-known entertainment venue in Chiang Mai between January 1 and 4. He sought a Covid-19 test on January 5 following news that infected people had visited the pub, but tested negative. He should have self quarantined for 14 days, but he still flew to Bangkok and then attended the DJ celebrity’s birthday party on January 9.

DJ Matoom says he met the guest, one of his friend, on January 9, but that friend didn’t know he was infected until January 19 in which he told Matoom.

According to Dr Tanarak Plipat, now acting inspector-general of the Public Health Ministry, an infected person can transmit disease to two others on average, while a “super spreader” will transmit to multiple people.

DJ Matoom and the party’s guest were criticised of violating the disease control measures.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand’s tourism targets film production to gain revenue during Covid-19 crisis

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Thailand’s tourism targets film production to gain revenue during Covid-19 crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Herrera & Partners

Thailand’s tourism officials have a new idea to draw in visitors: film production. The Tourism and Sports Ministry is aiming to generate around 3 billion baht from foreign film crews and is targeting projects with an investment over 100 million baht, hoping to compensate for the loss of revenue due to the lack of international tourists during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign tourism revenue drastically dropped nearly 83% in 2020, going from nearly 40 million tourists in 2019 to only 6.7 million tourists in 2020.

The tourism department’s director-general Anant Wongbenjarat says that Thailand welcomed 176 international film productions to the country last year, generating 1.73 billion baht for the local economy. But this is a sharp decrease compared to the previous year where the 740 foreign film crews generated 4.86 billion baht.

In August, the CCSA decided to grant special entry permission to film productions. 53 film production projects were based in Thailand during August and December, contributing 1.14 billion baht to the economy. Those entering Thailand must still undergo a 14 day quarantine.

“International productions can proceed and generate income for locals despite the tourism slowdown.”

Anant also says there are 4 more film production projects underway, and it is forecasted to generate 186 million baht, bringing the total to 57 projects. In the first half of this year, there will be nine more productions expected to come in and help create at least 800 jobs for locals.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Moderna vaccine is proved ‘protective’ against Covid-19 variants

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Moderna vaccine is proved ‘protective’ against Covid-19 variants | The Thaiger
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As fear over new variants of Covid-19 had prompted the travel restrictions to tighten worldwide, the United States biotech firm Moderna announced that its vaccine should protect against the variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Latest studies on the efficacy of Moderna vaccines confirmed that the vaccines are effective and protective against new variants. The company will continue more tests adding a second booster of its vaccine, bringing to 3 shots in a total.

“We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants.”

Last month, a private hospital in Bangkok advertised pre-orders for the Moderna vaccine, which still needs approval from Thailand’s FDA. Thailand’s Department of Health Service Support demanded that the hospital remove the advertisements.

In the ads, the hospital was charging 4,000 baht for a booking of the vaccine. In the post the hospital said the vaccine would arrive in Thailand in October 2021. They also announced that the vaccine would cost 6,000-10,000 baht.

Health officials say private hospitals will be allowed to administer vaccines that are approved by the FDA. So far, the Thai government has only approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use. The first batch of 50,000 doses are expected to arrive next month. Frontline health care workers and vulnerable groups in high risk areas will be first to receive the vaccine.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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